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Workers of color on average earn $3.71 less an hour than white workers, a survey of 4300 of restaurant employees in eight cities has concluded. Full-time restaurant workers earn an average of $15,000 a year compared with $45,000 a year in the private sector overall, according to the Restaurant Workers Opportunities Center United, an advocacy group that conducted the survey in Miami, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago, New York and Portland, Maine.

Oscar Danilo, who joined ROC Miami six months ago, says the report proves that discrimination and abuse in the industry aren’t just problems for a few workers in isolated restaurants. “These problems are inherent in the industry,” he said. “There’s no way to deny it or hide it; the facts are right there. The reports give us the backing that we haven’t had before.”

Even during the Great Recession, the restaurant industry remained relatively robust, having shed jobs at only about 40 percent of the rate as the rest of the economy. And by the end of 2010, unlike other parts of the economy, restaurant employment had nearly recovered to pre-recession levels, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The restaurant industry hires many people without formal credentials, something that benefits new immigrants as well as others with low levels of education, typically categories of people who suffer significantly higher unemployment during economic downturns.

However, in addition to the racial disparities in pay, the survey found nearly 90 percent of restaurant workers have no company health insurance, the vast majority have no paid vacation or sick days, and nearly half complain of uncompensated overtime. ROC stated:

In all eight locations, we found that there are two roads to profitability in the restaurant industry: the “high road” and the “low road.” Restaurant employers who take the high road are the source of the best jobs in the industry — those that provide livable wages, access to health benefits, and advancement in the industry. Taking the low road to profitability, however, creates low-wage jobs with long hours, few benefits, and exposure to dangerous and often-unlawful workplace conditions.

Our research indicates that the majority of restaurant employers in each of the eight regions examined appear to be taking the low road, creating a predominantly low-wage industry in which violations of employment and health and safety laws are commonplace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median hourly wage for food preparation and service workers is only $8.89 including tips, which means that half of all restaurant workers nationwide actually earn less.

Sadly, many Americans may be tempted to say "so what"? For those not moved by the human situation in this matter, it should be noted that the social costs are not small. Lack of health care puts stress on public hospitals and low wages make for more pressure on publicly funded social assistance agencies. That means taxpayers subsidize restaurant employers.

The survey found that workers of color are "concentrated in the industry’s 'bad jobs,' while white workers tend to disproportionately hold the few 'good jobs.' The median  hourly wage of all white workers surveyed in the eight cities clocked in at $13.25, with that of workers of color at $9.54.

The nationwide minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers is $2.13 and has been since 1991. In 2009, Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards (MD-04) introduced the Working for Adequate Gains for Employment in Services (WAGES) Act, H.R. 2570.  Act (H.R 2570) to increase the tipped workers minimum wage to $3.75 within three months of passage, then to $5 an hour in 2011 and no less than $5.50 a hour in 2012, making it 70 percent  But the bill went nowhere. On Monday, Edwards reintroduced the bill, now designated H.R. 631. The 12 co-sponsors are listed here. If your Representative is not among them, you might ring him or her up and inquire as to why not.

Among the survey's conclusions:

• 89.7% did not have health insurance provided through their employer
• 87.7% did not have paid sick days.
• 79.4% did not have paid vacation days
• 63.7% worked while sick
• 46.3% suffered from overtime violations
• 28% of those being passed over for a promotion reported that it was based on race

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 06:30 PM PST.

Also republished by I follow and I Quote Meteor Blades in my Diary Group, Dailykos Kossacks For Action, and White Privilege Working Group.

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Comment Preferences

  •  But remember... (11+ / 0-)

    these are the people who need to "share" the sacrifice.

    No, let's not remove the cap on payroll tax... not at all.

    We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

    by raptavio on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 06:38:41 PM PST

    •  sharing is always a great thing (0+ / 0-)

      especially when you are the one getting to tell others that sharing is awesome... while you sit on your high horse hording.  

      The Left really needs to stop referencing the billionaires who say, "raise our taxes" because they don't believe it...if they believed it they would be "volunteers (patriots)" in helping to fund their govt.  Sharing the sacrifice.  When that happens "shared sacrifice" might be a term worthy of being bandied about.

      I'm sure the Irish and the Greeks and Spaniards and English are all having fun "sharing the sacrifice" of austerity...and I'm sure it is the elite classes in each country who protest in the street from time to time...

      I'm sure the Egyptians, Tunisians, Bahrainians, Algerians, Iranians, Jordanians, Yemeni, UAE(ers)(emirateans?)  are enjoying the "shared oil wealth" and the "shared sacrifices" and that it is an equal mix of oil sheik and janitor marching for regime change.

      I still think that it would do Republicans some real good to spend time in countries like Somalia so they can actually see what dysfunctional societies look like.  Maybe then abortion wouldn't be as important as doing unto others.  Maybe low taxes wouldn't be as important as paying for infrastructure.  But the "real good" would only come about if the Republicans were actually smarter than I give them credit for.

      But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have laid my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams. – Yeats

      by Bill O Rights on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 09:07:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My idiot local rep (7+ / 0-)

    is voting that the state can't have a higher minimum wage than the federal one because businesses have trouble affording their workers.  But by not paying people enough to have disposable income there is a different and even more serious problem.  Thus the race to the bottom.  If you only listen to the "haves" you have a problem.  Welcome to Missouri...

    •  Reverse "States Rights"? (5+ / 0-)

      Teh stupid must be strong in that one.

      Desiderius Erasmus, once said: "War is delightful to those who have no experience in it".

      by BOHICA on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 06:41:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Colorado (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      just cut (proposed to cut) 350 million bucks from k-12 education.  If there is a race to the bottom CO isn't going to let another state trip us up.  

      CO is only in a financial sewer because of TABOR.  We've gutted parts of the bill but the worst parts remain...and now, because we had to keep spending money even though we weren't allowed to raise that much in tax revenue...we have to eliminate jobs and close schools.  TABOR isn't a "bill of rights" it is a circular firing squad in the guise of fiscal responsibility.

      The only way out is for the govt to be responsible and raise taxes WHILE spending responsibly.  Bitching about failing schools and dropping test scores and then cutting spending to education is the most hypocritical and irresponsible act a state govt can make.  

      But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have laid my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams. – Yeats

      by Bill O Rights on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 09:16:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is why we don't have Universal Health Care. (14+ / 0-)

    Because "they" would use it.

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 06:42:22 PM PST

    •  And when Social Security (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      akeitz, jnhobbs, NY brit expat

      was brought in it excluded farm workers and service industry employees......

       But I must quibble on one diary point....the resteraunt industry during the Depression remained robust because a great many people lacked facilities to cook. A lot of people lived in hotels or in single rooms.

      it tastes like burning...

      by eastvan on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 06:49:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Whining, or telling us? (0+ / 0-)

    "and nearly half complain of uncompensated overtime."

    So, nearly half report uncompensated overtime?

    -- We are just regular people informed on issues

    by mike101 on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 06:42:42 PM PST

  •  The hospitality/restaurant industry (13+ / 0-)

    is utterly brutal, a black hole of long hours, dangerous conditions, and a dead-end future. And these are the conditions corporate America wants everyone to suffer under eventually. Workers must re-learn how to organize, organize, organize.

    Here's an inspiring video on the subject:

  •  I agree with the goals of this diary, that of (7+ / 0-)

    increasing the barbaricly low wages paid to restaurant workers and have no doubt the statements regarding comparable pay of minorities.  However, I do question the hourly wage numbers.  I've been a waitress (this was before they were called servers).  I know a number of people working as servers now.   They continue working at a very demanding and difficult job in a highly insecure field with few to no benefits because of the amount they make per hour, with tips.  It's impossible to actually know what the average hourly income is because it's so easy for income to not be reported.  And I know from experience that a lot is not reported, no matter what steps are taken to try and get it reported.

    Be that as it may be, these workers deserve whatever they're able to make and then more!  It is honest to god one of the hardest jobs out there, with little other than the tips to recommend it.  It's simply crazy that anyone in this day and age should be getting paid $2.15 an hour!    

    "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

    by gustynpip on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 06:46:58 PM PST

    •  Wow (5+ / 0-)

      I soo disagree with your comment here.

      A lot of tips didn't used to get reported due to the fact that the wages were so low, since they weren't included in minimum wage laws.

      However, all of that has changed.  Most, if not all chain restaurants now automatically figure taxes on 10 percent of a servers sales.  Meaning, ten percent of your sales are automatically figured as income.  Whether you made it or not.  And you have NO recourse other than quitting if you don't like it.

      You aren't even asked what your tips are anymore.  You are taxed fully on all charge tips, and then then percent of sales with no charge tip.  

      Your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore. John Prine -8.00,-5.79

      by Miss Blue on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 06:57:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We still have to claim (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Miss Blue, Bill O Rights, gustynpip

        I work as a server and am required to claim tips at clock out. If I claim less than 10% of my sales then I'll get a meeting with my manager. Anything less than an average of 8.5% gets me allocated tips on my W-2.

        I don't know about federal law, but in Ohio employers/managers are not allowed to claim tips for the employees. They can get in a lot of trouble for that. Since they aren't allowed to ask how much cash tips we made, they'd have no idea what we actually did make and couldn't honestly report that. If a tipped employee forgets to clock out and the manager clocks out for them they aren't allowed to claim anything for them-- the employee has to add to their claim after their next shift.

        We are technically required to claim 100%. Our time clock program at my store is setup to alert us if we claim less than our charge slips, but will allow us to clock out without claiming them. Again though, I'm responsible for that and my manager is alerted if I claim too little. The government automatically assumes that we make at least 8.5% of our sales and expects us to tell them that. And if we don't make that on one night? They guess we'll make it up on average. Pfft.

        Also, in Ohio, our minimum wage for tipped employees is $3.65. It was quite exciting when we finally got a raise from $2.13.

        My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

        by gratis4 on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 08:28:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I only work (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gustynpip, Mrs M

      a couple of days a week. I regularly average $17, factoring in my tips and my hourly wage. Not a lot for most people here, but it's decent money in my neck of Ohio. There are many people in my area who have college degrees but make more money waiting tables than in their field. I can't find secure employment with my degree so I chose this over working in a factory or for some big box store.

      It does suck some now, though, because we are expected to "tip out" 3% of our sales to pay the wages of the bus staff and the host staff. They're paid $3.65 and our tip out brings them up to minimum wage. Meh.

      My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

      by gratis4 on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 08:42:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So you're actually required to pay the bus and (0+ / 0-)

        host staff????  That is the craziest, most bizarre thing I've ever heard.  I mean, I've heard of sharing tips, and can't say I disagree with that idea in theory.  But that you have to do it to bring them up to minimum wage???  They should have to be paid minimum wage by the restaurant - they're after all, not typically tipped.  Then whatever tip sharing arrangement is fair could be added.  

        "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

        by gustynpip on Thu Feb 17, 2011 at 08:10:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  In Oregon the min wage is $8.50 (8+ / 0-)

    Including the restaurant industry, no exceptions. A meal at a national chain (not that I ever eat one) is the same as in any other state.

    Helped my friends run their 27 seat burger joint for 21 years and the minimum wage was never an issue.

    Desiderius Erasmus, once said: "War is delightful to those who have no experience in it".

    by BOHICA on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 06:47:47 PM PST

    •  I Wonder if They Get to Keep 100% (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      of their tips.  My mom worked in a restaurant that paid minimum wage to servers, but all their tips went in a jar and the table busers, chefs, and servers split it all equally.

      •  They split the tips (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TooFolkGR, allergywoman

        Because they had no assigned "station" and only 4 working at a time. Everybody did waiting, bussing, dish washing, etc. And were treated like family. On a good day the tips could be up to $150-$200.

        Desiderius Erasmus, once said: "War is delightful to those who have no experience in it".

        by BOHICA on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 07:08:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  is there a way to patronize (5+ / 0-)

    restaurants with the high road?

    i mean, how can we tell, or call and ask - what is the good question?

    i'm guessing that  these are high-road, perhaps.  not so family-friendly for my kids though.

     this place is family friendly, but i wonder about the employees . . .

    •  Family-owned small restaurants (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Iberian, jlms qkw

      are often the worst, it's sad to say. If you are not a member of the family, you are often treated like a dog, as the "family" comes first. There is zero chance you will ever get promoted, and if you ever get into a beef with the crazy daughter or lazy cousin you are toast. At least with the big chains there's some semblance of professionalism.

      I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

      by doc2 on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 09:05:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  not really (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jlms qkw

      but you can assume that most finer dining restaurants you eat in have a trained executive chef (probably more often white Americans), trained sous chef, then minority line cooks, bussers and dishwashers.  Front of house work goes to look and personality in my experience.  

      A chain like Hooters can have the worst food and still make a profit.  Cheap food, cheap labor....but put girls in tight shorts and tshirts, get a few drinks in people, and the cheap food prepared by untrained cooks is suddenly palatable.

      The restaurants in my town, Mexican or Asian or American etc, have all Mexican kitchen staff except two fine dining restaurants where the owners are the executive chefs...the rest are minority workers.  The owners of the most successful restaurants swear that they would go broke if they had to raise the minimum wage for their kitchen help and say, "we'll close tomorrow if they raise the server wages"...but they are all homeowners with other investments, take a couple vacations a year, put their kids through college or themselves thru grad school, have all the toys like RVs, boats, 4wds etc....they aren't hurting...they just don't want to Have to do without upgrading their RV every other year.

      Greed is consistent.

      But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have laid my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams. – Yeats

      by Bill O Rights on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 09:39:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  But Unions Are Obsolete (7+ / 0-)

    Yup, no point in having contracts that protect all workers anymore.  That unfairness of the past, it's over now.  Sure we're paying the minorities less, but at least they (very occasionally) get health care, (almost never) get paid time off and (if they're lucky) don't have to work unpaid overtime!

    Who needs equal protection?  We've got corporate benevolence.

  •  Washington State prisoners get 42 cents/hr. (0+ / 0-)

    in the State with the highest Minimum Wage in the country I'm proud to add.

    "Those old Wall Street boys are putting up an awful fight to keep the government from putting a cop on their corner." - Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 06:56:47 PM PST

  •  Thanks for the Diary (5+ / 0-)

    I suspect that there is another ugly reality:  there is no correlation between the "tier" of the restaurant and whether the restaurant has taken the "high" or "low" road when it comes to compensating its workers.  In other words, I bet you will find just as many ZAGAT rated 5 star dining places exploiting their busboys and kitchen staff as Denny's.

    At least, that's how it seems from where I sit (which is more often than I'd like close to the kitchen or the back of the restaurant since that unconscious tendency to seat us dark folks where not too many other diners can see us continues to plague some of America's finest foodie hangouts.)

    If you don't stand for something, you will go for anything. Visit Maat's Feather

    by shanikka on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 07:00:42 PM PST

    •  absolutely (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greenchiledem, Mrs M

      however, a lot of chef/owners run apprenticeships.  They'll hire a kid out of high school and start em as a vegetable washer and eventually let them work their way up if they show they have some talent.  A lot cheaper to train a kid that already works for you than to hire some newb out of culinary school who got an A for presentation and hasn't missed an episode of Hell's Kitchen and therefore thinks they are qualified to tell their boss how to make a hamburger...and wants to get paid as chef, not an assistant.

      But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have laid my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams. – Yeats

      by Bill O Rights on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 09:49:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting that Donna Edwards... (5+ / 0-)

    spearheaded this effort.
    She won by primarying a sitting democratic member of Congress.
    We need more leaders like her; we need more primaries.

    They call him Machete...

    by dclawyer06 on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 07:04:34 PM PST

  •  As a restraurant owner (7+ / 0-)

    for 15 years, I took the high road........we thrived during the Clinton administration in Gourmet magazine.........then bankrupt three years ago.
    I would say 95% of restaurants are hell.

  •  Retail workers in general get the shaft (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tim woods

    Minority or not, those jobs are awful. It's probably worse for minorities, but we need reforms there that benefit everybody.

    The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them. - Albert Einstein.

    by Cvstos on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 07:06:02 PM PST

  •  Tips (0+ / 0-)

    Why don't we require 50% tipping that would help, or more

  •  Sent this message to my Rep, newly elected (5+ / 0-)

    Jaime Herrera Beutler (R)(WA-03)


    Dear Congresswoman Herrera-Beutler,

    I strongly urge you to stand up for restaurant workers who deserve to earn a reasonable wage for their labor.

    HR 631 will ensure that some of our fellow Washingtonians and other Americans who labor daily in the restaurant industry receive more than a pittance for their work.

    Are you aware that in some states, restaurant workers earn as little as $2.13 an hour if they are eligible to receive 'tips' as part of their income? As I am sure you know, there are many people who tip badly - and in our current fiscal environment, I'm sure that has not gotten any better.

    This is worse than atrocious - it is a moral failure on the part of Congress to allow it to continue. People who earn full minimum-wage in our Evergreen State cannot live on full-time work, not with the high cost of housing - and as you know, WA State minimum wage is $8.67. How then, can you, as a Member of Congress, allow restaurant workers to be paid what amounts to slave wages?

    Again, I strongly urge you to join the 12 Representatives who have already co-sponsored HR 631, which is currently in Committee.


    Your Constitutent
    Angela ████
    Clark County, WA

    "in Order to form a more perfect Union"
    Basta de Guerra. No más. Enough War. No more.

    by Angie in WA State on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 07:13:35 PM PST

  •  My Rep. Adam Smith is not on the list of congress (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mrs M

        ...persons in support of H.R.631: To amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to establish a base minimum wage for tipped employees.

    Here's a link to the House of Representatives  You can fill in your zip code, then either call e-mail or both.

    Adam Smith not in support. I aim to find out why.

    The long low road:  Indentured Servitude

    This country has been there done that almost done?

  •  Question about wages (0+ / 0-)

    Most all waiters get $2.13 plus tips.  Does that mean that if there is a disparity in wages, it's because minority servers are tipped less?

    Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

    by lostboyjim on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 07:43:39 PM PST

    •  Yes (4+ / 0-)

      In my experience (which, I'm ashamed to say, is a lot), all the tipped employees start at the same hourly rate, but minority servers seem to make a lot less in tipped rates. I've also seen that male servers make more money than females. Surprising? We have our theories about that too-- which I won't discuss here because we don't have any studies to back us up. By "we" I'm referring to myself and my coworkers.

      My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

      by gratis4 on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 08:33:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In my experience (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        it is about whoever does their job.  The waitstaff who clears tables and doesn't get complaints is rewarded with the best tables...whether by a window in summer or next to a heater in the winter...whatever "best" is.  

        From my experience I will say that the key to tips is:  be nice, be efficient, be clean and neat, and be unobtrusive.  Most people do not like the server who stops by to say hi then doesn't return with even water for ten minutes.  Most people don't like the server who acts like they'd rather be anywhere in the world but waiting tables.  Most people don't like the server who only checks on you a couple of times during the course of a meal.  Most people don't like servers who want to strike up conversations.  Most people don't like servers who are wearing grubby clothes or are giving off BO.  One of my friends is a great waitress.  She is also a workout warrior.  She sat down next to me one night after she'd gone to work after working out and I almost gagged...Not that I'm not use to the smell of sweat...but it just isn't what you want to get a whiff of while you are taking a bite of food.  If that were to happen to a stranger that person would never want to sit at one of her tables again.

        People are out to eat to have a relaxing time...not get impatient at slow service or be nauseated by BO or distracted by the overweight girl who insists on wearing the too tight jeans and the too short shirt that rides up over her belly.  Those things, fine for normal life, just aren't appealing in a restaurant setting.

        But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have laid my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams. – Yeats

        by Bill O Rights on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 10:01:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not always true (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mrs M

          Managers and Key personnel are people too. There's a lot of favoritism. I've been doing this job for over 20 years (I so am ready to retire) and am good at it. I know the ins and out way too well. There's a fine line between being suffocating of your guest and seemingly ignoring them. There's a lot of acting too. I don't really care if you like your food, but I'll help you have an enjoyable evening out. You'll never know, though, that I don't care about anything more than the tip you're going to leave me.

          There are still a lot of people that tip 10% regardless of the service. There are still a lot of people that will complain just to get a discount. And just yesterday I got stiffed by a couple because there were babies crying at another table. I still had to tip out $2 for their meal, though. It cost me to have to wait on them. meh.

          Did you realize that in your last paragraph you mentioned irritations that can primarily be attributed to female servers? That's what I mean. Male servers are assumed to be better and have fewer expectations than females. I understand that very well, but I thought it was interesting that you highlighted that without realizing it.

          My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

          by gratis4 on Thu Feb 17, 2011 at 05:16:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  that's the theory... (0+ / 0-)


          Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

          by a gilas girl on Thu Feb 17, 2011 at 08:13:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  CO min wage is now $7.36; tipped wage $4.34 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, Bill O Rights

    The law was changed a few years ago to require min wage to adjust with inflation. It went down last year, but it's back up this year.

    I own a restaurant and my tipped employees consistently earn $15-$20/hour - servers often make more. Our entry level hourly (non-tipped) staff are paid $10/hour. (We operate in a resort area.)

    I feel we take the high road with wages and overtime, etc. and follow the law. However, we no longer offer health insurance.  We did for quite awhile but not many signed up.

     On average, our workers earned $14.43/hour last year-including reported tips. That amounts to a $30k/year income, if they all worked full-time. Our biz continues to be down 23% from 2007/2008 pre-recession levels.

    We offer paid vacation for full time staff that meet min hours. We don't pay sick pay.

    Most restaurant owners I know - locally and throughout the US take the high road.  But there are some ...

    META NOTE TO MB: the link to the study sight didn't work.

    The USA will host the World Alpine Ski Championships on Feb. 3-15, 2015 in Vail/Beaver Creek, Colorado. This is my hometown!

    by greenchiledem on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 07:54:12 PM PST

  •  After 20 yrs. as a cook & 15 as a "white" (0+ / 0-)

    collar worker

    oh - yeah - and living in Boston or Seattle for 29 of the last 31 years,

    it figures that the professional managerial base of the Democratic Party needs some fancy study to know that the people are treated like shit where they go out to eat.

    doesn't everybody live in leafy neighborhoods?

    great diary MB, but

    it reminds me of how the Democrats from MA and WA are more into enabling the u.s.a version of Mubarak-ism than they are into fighting for the pee-ons.


    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 08:10:30 PM PST

    •  OK. But the study was done by.. (5+ / 0-) advocacy group for restaurant workers.

      Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 08:12:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've already put in a 10 hour day in my (0+ / 0-)

        real job, AND

        when I was a cook in Boston in the 80's, cooking in fine dining for all the Democratic big wigs with all their ivy'd up degrees and fancy job titles and BIG jobs and BIG paychecks ...

        it wasn't obvious then that the bottom was getting screwed?

        Try table 619 of the statistical abstract of the united states - employment by industry.

        appx. 9.7 million working in 'accomadation and food'

        try table 701, money income 2008

        appx. 240 million over 15 with mney income,
        appx. 24 million OVER 75k a year,
        appx. 216 million UNDER 75k a year,
        appx. 180 million UNDER 50k a year

        I'm not knocking the study or the people doing it -

        I'm knocking the worthless sacks of shit I've wasted time and money and votes on over the last 30 years - the worthless sacks of shit sucking up paychecks as Democratic "leaders".

        like that asshole Tip O'Neill, who I voted for, who bi-partizan-shitted with Raygun all the time, setting up 2 more decades of right wing ass kissing.


        Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

        by seabos84 on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 08:42:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Labor rights (3+ / 0-)

    are civil rights.

    Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

    by David Kaib on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 08:29:37 PM PST

    •  all "common" rights (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David Kaib

      are deemed expendable by the rich and by the govt.  Civil rights, labor rights, gay long as a "right" is an issue the rhetoric will honor that "right"...whenever that right fades from the public consciousness that right is deemed a liability that can be "reworked".  All of those rights are also wealth dependent.  A billion dollars makes even Sean Paul Diddy Daddy Coombs and Jay Z seem white to the power players.  If Bill Gates got divorced and married a gay porn star people wouldn't give a shit if he got married, not civilly united...hard to argue with 50 billion bucks.

      The only time I can think where money doesn't make the great equalizer would be a lottery winner moving into a gated community...that is like a Christian voluntarily walking into a Roman stadium to pet the lions.

      But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have laid my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams. – Yeats

      by Bill O Rights on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 10:30:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Language skills (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've worked in the fine dining industry in San Diego for over 15 years and minorities do get the shaft. One of the biggest reasons is that in San Diego, minorities usually, and I mean usually, do not have a full grasp of the English language. Hell, most of the Anglos don't have a grasp of it either, but minorities lack of language skills keep them from being servers, the best paying jobs in the food service industry. Either they don't have the confidence to wait tables and want to work in positions with minimal speaking contact with the customers,or management wont let them wait because they can't clearly communicate the menu or the customers requests to the kitchen.  

    But language skills play a huge part in this.

    And yes, there are some latinos that took a huge interest in learning the English language, proved themselves and became great waiters still to this day.

    PS, Most of Backwards-Ass America makes our Californian min wage ($8/hr) look good.

  •  I have not worked as (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, greenchiledem, Mrs M

    a waiter or bartender since 1989, but I sincerely doubt things have changed all that much.

    Studies that report on "wages and tips" are, in my view, highly suspect.  The simple fact of the matter is that tipped employees rarely report their actual tips.

    I started as a bartender in a low-tipping area when I was 19.  We usually took home about $20 for a five-or six-hour shift.  Nobody reported that much in tips.

    About ten years later I was working as a bartender in Alaska.  We would take home about $150-250 in tips for a five- or six-hour shift.  By this time, federal law required employers to report any employee who reported less than 8% of gross sales as tips.  In other words, while employees were still required to report 100% of tips, an employer could accept any amount as the "reported" amount, but if the reported amount was less than 8% of gross sales, the employer was required to report that discrepancy to the IRS, and the employee could look forward to an audit.  Employers do not like extra paperwork, and frequently misinformed employees about the law; they would tell their employees that the law required tipped employees to report 8% of gross sales as tips.  Most of my co-workers reported 8% of gross sales and were genuinely angry at me for reporting 100% of actual tips.  They were afraid some comparison of my reporting and their reporting would subject them to an audit.  One employer actually tried to tell me that it was illegal for me to report more than 8% of gross sales.  (By the way, in Alaska there is no exception to the minimum wage for tipped employees.)

    I have worked in areas that are below average for tipping and areas that are at least average.  Nowhere have I worked where tipped employees accurately report their tips.  

    To the extent this is a problem, the solution is to do away with tipping.  Raise the prices 15% and pay the employees a fair wage.   Most servers would oppose this solution, because, frankly, a good portion of tips are untaxed and unreported income.

    I'd rather stand with the down-trodden than lie with the wealthy.

    by Endangered Alaskan Dem on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 11:00:25 PM PST

    •  exactly. Still accurate (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Endangered Alaskan Dem

      now. I am still in the industry. There is no consistency. Many employers have completely different rules about reporting tips. Many don't understand the law. Many don't care.

      I could go on and on, but certainly for places that are not corporate style chain restaurants/bars, absolutely nothing has changed.

  •  It's not just minority restaurant workers. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gilas girl, elfling, David Kaib

    Since 2000, I haven't had a job that gave me paid sick leave. The only jobs I've had that did were with the local university.

    I've worked sick often, and had people yell at me on the Internet and call me selfish for doing so. So what? I need to continue to have a place to live and to be able to eat. If you want me to stay home, you have to make it financially possible for me to do so. And if you want me to recover, you need to make it so I can see a doctor.

    I know. That ain't gonna happen.

    "This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it." -- Keith Olbermann

    by allergywoman on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 11:05:02 PM PST

  •  I am less likely to eat in restaurants (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Kaib

    after a time during the winter where every time we went out to eat, we all came down with colds or flu.

    This is a very real cost of not giving your people sick days, that they make the customers sick and the customers are less interested in eating out.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 11:29:53 PM PST

  •  Is this really the issue? (0+ / 0-)

    The issue probably without more study may  be about illegal or undocumented workers.   The depression of wages may not be about racism, but restaurant and fastfood places hiring illegal immigrants.  The disparity may in fact may be between places that hire illegals and do not follow or skirt labor laws, and those that don't.

    Here might be the reality from an article I read awhile ago from a labor organizer.  Sorry have no link as this long ago that I read the article, and quit frankly doubt many would have noticed anyway as it goes toward a conclusion not comfortable for many.

    This article was about how illegals came to dominate the fastfood food workplace but may be instructive on restaurants in general.

    The fast food industry essentially grew up 70's and 80's.  The labor force was mainly American teenagers.  As those teenagers grew up, many returned returned to their old jobs to earn money post high school as they looked for better jobs, money for college, or basically as a way station until moving on.  As a side note, I did note that in the early 80's I remember seeing also many elderly people working fast food places.

    But here is where the real issue may lie, and it is not a white vs. other issue.  Those post high school young people were working and wanted to work FULL TIME to earn money.  And  guess what, once somebody starts working full time, many laws go into effect concerning wages, benefits, and overtime.

    To avoid these laws and costs, fast food places turned to illegals.  A work force that could and would work only part time and that could be easily turned over constantly to avoid wage and labor laws.

    I can imagine "full service" restaurants doing the same over time.  

    So the apparent wage based racism which the diarist maybe arguing for is in fact a wage discrepancy based not between whites and people of color.

    The difference may in fact be the wage difference between American (white) wages and wages of illegal/undocumented workers within the industry.

  •  Somewhat stretching the definition of racism (0+ / 0-)
    The industry offers low-wage jobs with little access to benefits in most communities in which workers of color live, and inadequate bus service presents a key challenge for these workers in accessing livable-wage jobs in wealthier parts of the City where more fine dining restaurants are concentrated.

    I realize many diarists equate class structures and inequality of living conditions as 'racism', but I personally don't.  

    That being said, the study also notes examples of actual racism.. preferential hiring of whites into front-restaurant jobs.  That needs to be the focus, if the word 'racism' is going to be tossed in.

    "To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well." Justice Robert Jackson, Chief Prosecutor, Nuremberg.

    by Wayward Son on Thu Feb 17, 2011 at 04:24:35 AM PST

    •  I'm not totally convinced that this is (0+ / 0-)

      even the problem.

      I worked many years in our family restaurant, and I'm certain we contributed to the totally lopsided numbers.

      Our dishwashers and stockers were almost all Mexican and Middle Easterners. Our wait staff was white (say, 75%), Hispanic (20%), a couple African-Americans.

      I can remember that the kitchen jobs were certainly the lowest paying, but these were almost always men who had no language skills and would not be able to do those wait jobs. They were all legal too. And, the truth is, we understood that after working hard 6 days a week, they would give notice and leave (for Mexico) for a few months here and there (often being conscientious enough to have a friend fill in for them).

      Without a doubt, our restaurant contributed to the disparity in pay between white workers and minorities. This is anecdotal of course, but obviously we knew lots of people in the industry who had similar workforces. I'd be interested to know if the lower paid workers had language skills.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Thu Feb 17, 2011 at 09:49:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tips (0+ / 0-)

    The servile custom of tipping is the root of this problem.

  •  Working while sick (0+ / 0-)

    Think about what gets in your food when people with flu or other contagious diseases are forced to work with it.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Thu Feb 17, 2011 at 10:02:36 AM PST

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